The “Abaya” Dilemma.

Few days ago I posted  a poll on my Instagram, to find out whether women -in Bahrain, and Bahrain Only- felt a difference in the way they were treated, based on whether they wore an Abaya or just regular western clothes. The reason behind my question, is that I did feel a certain difference, and wanted to see if other women felt the same. The response was overwhelming and shocking at the same time. It was an eye opener because: Yes most people felt there was a difference, however, different people had different reasons and explanations. So yes most women thought that people would treat you differently, at malls, in coffeeshops, and everywhere else in the island, but some thought that wearing an Abaya was a privilege, and others saw it as a curse. What was interesting however, is that some of the women who don’t wear abaya, thought of it as a privilege, and some of those who do wear it, thought of it as a curse.

Let me clarify: I never used to wear abayas before, I just never saw myself wearing them. However, my attitude changed a year or so ago, and I started wearing an abaya, from time to time, here in Bahrain. So here I am, the same person, frequenting the same places, the only difference is that now I would have an Abaya on. I sensed a little change in the way people were treating me. The difference wasn’t a favorable one though, I felt that the same  people at the grocery store now smiled less, were less nicer, less helpful and automatically assumed that I spoke no English. Of course this wasn’t everywhere, BUT I have noticed this change in almost all places I was frequenting. It is almost like if wearing the Abaya made them look less of me. 

Therefore, this became some sort of social experiment that I was now conducting. I added a scarf to the mix, and it ruined any trace of friendliness that there ever was towards any stranger, it simply made things worse. This was a shocking revelation to me, because we live in an Arab, Islamic country, and you would think it would be just the opposite.  I am definitely not generalizing here, but this was my own experience.

When I asked friends and families about their opinion, I realized from some of their messages, that they actually felt just the opposite. They felt that women who wear Abayas were treated better than those who don’t. At grocery stores, at government agencies, at petrol stations …etc. They felt that wearing an Abaya was some kind of badge of reverence that women wore in the gulf, that immediately granted them RESPECT. Most of these women however, NEVER wore abayas, they were JUST assuming from what they have seen or heard. 

I found this extremely interesting for two reasons: 

1- I still can’t fathom why or how the abaya can determine how I am treated by fellow Arabs, in an Arab and Islamic country – or even expats for that matter. 

2-  No matter how strong and clear our ideas and opinions can seem to us, other people can have the exact opposite ideas, and that would be based on each one’s personal experiences and stories. 

I am still not done here, and I would still love to hear YOUR experiences and YOUR opinions!!! Please spare some time to share them with me.

Thank you! 

Yoga, We Will Probably Never Be Friends….

  
I started doing Yoga a couple of months after Adam was born. A lovely lady used to come over to give me some private classes at home, about 3 times a week. It was my very first time and I was super excited! Everybody I’ve ever met, had only great things to say about Yoga! My first class was great, and promised very sore muscles the next day. The second class though, I started having my doubts! My instructor was amazing and very peaceful which I loved, but there was a very small red flag rising at the back of my head! I tried to ignore it for the next six months …. But in vain! How can I not like Yoga???? Me?? For 3 years before Adam was born, I meditated every morning at 6am. I also did Taichi and Qigong (the Chinese version of Yoga) and I was loving it all! So what’s happening?! The first person I expressed my dislike of Yoga to, gave me the weirdest look as in: “You can’t be serious right?!”.

So after months of serious agony, I decided it was enough. Yoga wasn’t my thing and I didn’t care what other people thought of it or thought of me!! 

Yoga here just happens to be an example of things I push myself daily to achieve, just because I don’t want to seem weird or unusual! I would put so much pressure on myself to accomplish things that I don’t even want to accomplish just to please somebody! So my six months experience with Yoga was a true eye opener! Why should I ever do something I don’t like? Why should I push myself to do what I never want to be doing? And why should my choices in life fall into the same box as everyone’s else? Hell yeah.. I want to be weird! I want to be different! I want to be unusual! Even Barney would back me up on that (I am such a mom bringing up Barney in this very serious post! lol) My choices should be based on what I think fits me and my life and not what fits into what other people think is right! 
How many times I pushed myself to be somewhere I didn’t want to be in? How many times I forced myself to say something I didn’t really mean? How many times did I wear something I didn’t really feel like wearing? All that so I don’t seem strange in other people’s eyes! I can’t even begin to count!! 

The tricky part though is to do the same thing for other people. To appreciate their weirdness, and applaud their differences! This must be even harder than the fact of being different! We are judgmental creatures by nature, yet we hate to be judged ourselves! What a dilemma ha…. !    
When I sit back and watch my life, it sure seems like a continuous evaluation! And I love it! I see how the simplest things teach me so much about life itself, and about me too! At 29 I am perfectly comfortable with me, physically and emotionally. I also love my own company and I am no longer afraid of saying NO, or being different! Thanks to similar things that happen and we never know why, but there is always a point behind them! This might be too much self-rambling for some of you, but my thoughts always find a way to escape the safety of my brain and land into this blog 😉 So Thanks for reading!! 
Ouiam